Objective—Assessment of changes in left ventricular diastolic function and wall thickness after heart transplantation to verify whether these changes predicted acute rejection assessed by endomyocardial biopsy.
Design—Follow up according to a predefined protocol of consecutive patients from the first week after transplantation.
Setting—Heart transplantation unit of the Thoraxcentre, University Hospital Rotterdam Dijkzigt, The Netherlands.
Patients—All 32 patients undergoing orthotopic heart transplantation from 1 January 1989 to 31 March 1990 were examined. Two were excluded from the analysis. Patients were treated with cyclosporin and low dose steroids.
Main outcome measures—Data obtained by digitised M mode echocardiography were compared with the results of endomyocardial biopsy (Billingham classification). Mean values for left ventricular wall thickness, internal dimension, and their standardised rates of change and fractional shortening were determined from 4–6 consecutive expiratory beats. Mean values and individual trends during follow up were also investigated for each ultrasound variable. The results of these average values were compared with values in a group of 10 healthy volunteers.
Results—Median follow-up was 177 days (range 10–399). Two hundred and sixty three consecutive M mode studies were examined in relation to concurrent biopsy results. No significant differences were observed between the ultrasound variables at the time of moderate acute rejection (Billingham class 2, n = 37) and other biopsy classes (n = 226). Nor did changes in individual patients predict (moderate) acute rejection episodes. Twenty six of the 30 patients had an abnormal (slow) left ventricular relaxation pattern throughout follow up.
Conclusions—Digitised left ventricular M mode echocardiography did not predict the presence of acute rejection. In most patients there was a persistent slow left ventricular relaxation pattern.
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